Saturday, December 20, 2008

If Health Care Were Run Like Retail... We'd All Be in Big Trouble

Businessweek recently ran an article discussing Harvard Business School professor Regina E. Herzlinger who believes that health care should be run like retail. Dr. Herzlinger is a strong proponent of consumer driven health care.

"People can choose from 240 models and makes of cars pretty intelligently," she says. "Why do we assume they can't do the same when it comes to their health?"

Huh, here is why.

There are some markets where the consumer isn't necessarily the best at making informed and intelligent decisions. One is in healthcare. There other is in financial services. As employers stepped away from pension plans and workers were given defined contribution plans- 401(k)s, workers ended up working longer and had less savings set aside for retirement, even though planning for their future was in their best interest and despite an entirely new industry - mutual fund companies and financial advisors.

Unlike retiring, one can't choose or delay when to have a serious medical problem. How do consumers know what is good in healthcare when they can't figure out something as simple as saving money?

The other is consistently survey after survey consumers routinely indicate that they don't want the responsibility.

I certainly hope her perspective is not the dominant plan that the new Obama administration hopes to use to fix the healthcare system. Seriously.

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